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Movie Review: Analysis of “The Imposter” documentary by Layton, Bart

Updated on April 17, 2014

When we watch the news, we realize the existence of many bad people out there doing wrong things or hurting others. However, we at times do not realize how far a person can go or what traumas they have or encountered when they grew up in a particular family. “The Imposter” movie is a clear example of how far a person can go in order to get away with their wishes or desires without thinking how their actions can hurt others. The director in the imposter shows us different scenarios, beginning with the life of the main character’s life from the time he was a little child. After this depiction of the main character, we get an idea of his behavior and understand the reason behind his actions. On the other hand, we see the family of Nicholas Barkley and their relation to the person who pretended to be the missing child. The “The Imposter” film successfully uses the hook, the plot and the characterization features in making it an effective documentary concerning the story of a missing child. It also shows us how someone can advantage of this situation for his own benefits.

At the beginning of the documentary, we are shown Nicholas while at his home before he disappears. At this time, he appears to be approximately at the age bracket of 10-13 years. He also appears to be a jovial lad, and quite normal boy. However, this depiction creates suspense as viewers are made to wonder on the connection of this boy with the whole story.

The plot in this film is not predictable. This is due to lack of clues that shows what is going to happen next in the documentary. A good example of this feature can be derived from the character of Frederic Bourdin, who impersonated Nicholas Barkley and pretended to be him. A situation like this would make viewers to wonder and to start questioning on the kind of society that we live in. Other questions that may cross the minds of viewers while watching the movie would be on what makes other people to do such wrongs, and behaviors that stir other people’s emotions. Gergen (2008), argues that social influences can shape or change actions, behavior, speech and many more (309). In this story, we are made to understand how the background of Frederic Bourdin influences his later behavior. All in all, the story in this documentary was quite entertaining all the way through. I could not even blink because I did not want to miss anything. In this particular movie, the director occasionally used flashbacks, an aspect which made the story more interesting.

The main character of this documentary, Frederic Bourdin is the narrator of the plot. Bourdin is the one who impersonates the missing child. In the end, he repents on what he has done. With regard to how this character is portrayed, viewers could be made to assume that Frederic Bourdin has some physiological issues. There were very little details in this movie concerning Frederic Bourdin’s life and growing. What’s really interesting about the way he acted it was that many people that are involved in similar cases do it because they are trying to get some monetary reward. They may also be engaging in the vice as serial killers due to psychological issues. Skeem et al (2011) reveals that serial killers are motivated by fear of rejection, perfection and power. He goes on to articulate that serial killers tend to be irrational, insecure, and scared on rejection (99). In this situation, we get to understand that Frederic was doing this in order to gain acceptance and acquire a family since he had missed this part of his life while growing up.

Through the story’s hook, the plot and the characterization, we could definitely see how these elements are related and how they play a crucial role in the documentary. Getting the audience watch a documentary from the beginning to the end and to keep them interested is a very challenging task. However, this documentary has definitely accomplished this. In addition, the plot in this film was very unique and far above on what we watch on TV. Finally, the presentation of the main character made this documentary a very interesting and provoking piece to watch.


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